News, May 21st

GARCO COMMISSIONERS AGREE TO FUND JAIL CONTROL ROOM UPGRADE

Glenwood Springs—Garfield County Commissioners approved 433 thousand dollars in supplemental funds to pay for an upgrade of the county jail’s control room. Sheriff Lou Vallario says he’s been able to save up a good deal of grant money over the past few years to cover the 1.3 million dollar price tag. He says many of the control room functions are wearing out.

TOUGH DAYS LIE AHEAD FOR GARFIELD COUNTY BUDGET

Glenwood Springs—Garfield County is facing some rough financial waters ahead. According to recent estimates, the 2014 budget could see a revenue shortfall of 10 to 15 million dollars. Commissioners say every department needs to prepare to make some big cutbacks for the next couple of years.

GOVERNOR SIGNS COLORADO SCHOOL FINANCE BILL

The school finance overhaul signed into law Tuesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper makes big changes to how public schools in Colorado are funded. All the changes depend on voters approving some $1 billion a year in new taxes. Among the changes Colorado schools would see if voters agree are:

– COUNTING KIDS: Schools would update their system for counting pupils, from an outdated once-a-year head count to rolling counts so that enrollment changes are better reflected in how tax dollars are allocated.

– RAISE YOUR OWN: School districts would see hefty new incentives to ask local voters to raise their own taxes. A big criticism of Colorado’s current funding formula is that local governments have no incentives to seek school taxes, shifting the burden to the state.

– KINDERGARTEN FOR ALL (WHO WANT IT): Every school district would have money for full-day kindergarten, though attendance would remain optional.

– AT-RISK HELP: Schools would get additional funding for students deemed at-risk or for students learning English, who would receive 120 percent of the statewide per-pupil base. Students who are both at-risk and learning English would receive double the statewide per-pupil base.

– SPECIAL EDUCATION: Schools would receive $80 million in additional funding for special education.

– PAY FOR WHAT WE’VE ALREADY DONE: Schools would receive $100 million to implement school reforms adopted in recent years without money to pay for them. Those recent changes include a new teacher evaluation method that includes students’ standardized test results, and a requirement that schools do more to make sure all pupils can read by third grade.

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